Hermannsburg, Northern Territory

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This article is about the Australian community. For the German mission, see Hermannsburger Mission.

Northern Territory
Hermannsburg NT.jpg
Hermannsburg Lutheran church
HermannsburgNtaria is located in Northern Territory
Coordinates 23°56′35″S 132°46′40″E / 23.94306°S 132.77778°E / -23.94306; 132.77778Coordinates: 23°56′35″S 132°46′40″E / 23.94306°S 132.77778°E / -23.94306; 132.77778
Population 625 (2011 census)[1]
Postcode(s) 0872
Location 131 km (81 mi) from Alice Springs
Territory electorate(s) Namatjira
Federal Division(s) Lingiari

Hermannsburg is an Aboriginal community in Ljirapinta Ward of the MacDonnell Shire in the Northern Territory of Australia, 125 km km west southwest of Alice Springs. Local Aboriginal people call it Ntaria.


Hermannsburg lies on the Finke River within the rolling hills of the MacDonnell Ranges in the southern Central Australia region of the Northern Territory.

At the 2011 census, Hermannsburg had a population of 625, of whom 537 (86 per cent) identified as Aboriginal.[1]


Aboriginal dwellings, 1923

It was established as an Aboriginal mission in 1877 by two Lutheran missionaries of the Hermannsburg Mission from Germany, who had travelled overland from Bethany in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. They named their new mission among the Aranda people after Hermannsburg in Germany where they had trained.

In 1891, the missionaries left, but the settlement was continued by lay workers until, in 1894, Pastor Carl Strehlow arrived. Pastor Strehlow learnt and documented the Aranda language, and was involved with local people in Bible translation and hymn writing.

The language became known as Arrarnta in 1980. It is frequently referred to as Western Arrarnta. People understand that there are Eastern Arrernte people, Anmatjirra and other language groups in nearby areas.

There has been a very long history of vernacular literacy in the community, beginning soon after 1877. The recent 'Western Arrarnta Picture Dictionary', published 2006, is just one publication in a long and rich tradition of reading and writing in the local Aboriginal language.

Pastor F W Albrecht succeeded Strehlow as mission superintendant in 1926. Around that time there were periods of severe, widespread droughts. Many people became sick and died. Despite these hardships, Albrecht and the community leaders succeeded in developing various enterprises: a reticulated water supply from nearby springs, a large vegetable garden and orchard, beef cattle ranching, and a tannery. They also supported the development of the school of watercolour landscape artists, which became one of the special heritages of the Hermannsburg area.

The mission land was handed over to traditional ownership in 1982. The Hermannsburg Historic Precinct was included on the Australian National Heritage List in April 2006.[2] Much of the historic township is now protected by the National Trust.

Notable people[edit]

  • Albert Namatjira (1902–1959) was born at Hermannsburg. He developed the ability to use his acute observation of the land to paint Western-style watercolours. Painting in this style came to be known as the Hermannsburg School of painting.
  • Carl Strehlow's son Ted Strehlow (1908–1978) became a noted anthropologist and was initiated into Aranda customs.
  • Warren H Williams (1963–present) is a traditional owner of Ntaria and is now a prominent Australian country singer.
  • Shane Nicholson visited Hermannsburg with long-time friend Warren H Williams, and the town was inspiration for his 2015 album Hell Breaks Loose which features a track called 'Hermannsburg'.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Hermannsburg (SSC) (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  2. ^ "Australian National Heritage listing for the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct". Environment.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 


  • Leske, E (ed.) (1977) Hermannsburg - A Vision and a Mission. Lutheran Publishing House. ISBN 0859 10 044 8.
  • Roennfeldt, D. and the community members (2006) Western Arrarnta Picture Dictionary. IAD Press, Northern Territory, Australia. ISBN 1 86465 069 9.

External links[edit]